Title Nat Tate – an American artist 1928-1960
Author William Boyd
ISBN 1-901785-01-7
Extent 72 pp
Format 160 x 210mm
Binding Hardback, portrait
Price 12.99/$19.99
Illustrations 5 colour and 29 black & white integrated
Pub date Apr-98
On an assignment in New York, William Boyd visited a group show where he chanced upon a drawing by an artist called Nat Tate. Intrigued by what he saw, he began to unravel the sad but intriguing story of this Abstract Expressionist painter whose brief career ended tragically, and almost without a trace, at the age of thirty one."

Such is the nominal explanation for Boyd"s enthralling and hilarious fake biography. At heart, this is an investigation of authenticity: what make something real as opposed to invented? The answer lies, almost exclusively, in the way it is presented. Photos, documentation, personal reminiscence by others, acknowledgments, notes, copyright declarations, permissions, and, of course, the 'monograph'format itself.

Nat Tate is both an unusual spoof and also a fascinating investigation of the blurry line between the invented and the authentic, the wholly false and the utterly real.

The book freely mixes fact and fiction, as Tate interacts with famous artistic figures in the way of Woody Allen in "Zelig" and of Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump." (Picasso barely speaks to him; Braque is gracious but gently corrects his pronunciation of van Gogh).' New York Times, April 1998

"It was a great idea. Even the BBC was taken in. A hoax that had the critics fooled, that has pricked many inflated egos. The ruse was simple. Why not make up an artist, a dead one, of course, and pretend he painted some wonderful works of art?" The Daily Telegraph

A moving account of an artist too well understood for his time.' GORE VIDAL

Tate was an orphan, a shy depressive and an alcoholic ("an essential dignified drunk with nothing to say", recalls Gore Vidal). He produced a "once legendary, now almost entirely forgotten series of drawings inspigre by Hart Crane's great poem, 'The Bridge'. (Boyd reproduces a couple of these.) He mixed awkwardly with the bohemians of 1950s Manhattan - briefly he was Peggy Guggenheim's lover.' The Guardian, London,
April 1998

The pleasure of Boyd's fake is that it also belongs to an older tradition of mock-books. It is hilarious quite apart from the fact that it has fooled anyone.' The Guardian, London, April 1998